Politics · May 26, 2021

New York Prepares Emergency Response Assets

New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed State agencies to prepare emergency response assets as severe thunderstorms are forecasted to move across the state this afternoon and into the evening hours.  The main threats from these storms are damaging wind, large hail and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning.  But meteorologists believe conditions could spark the potential for isolated tornadoes.  Governor Cuomo urged New Yorkers to remain alert for potentially hazardous weather and check local forecasts continuously for changing conditions.

“Strong storms containing high winds, hail and lightning are likely across the state this afternoon and evening, and the National Weather Services reports that isolated tornadoes could spawn from these storms,” Governor Cuomo said.  “State agencies are watching the weather closely and are ready to help local partners.  New Yorkers should keep a very close eye on the weather today and be ready to take shelter quickly if necessary.”

Unseasonably warm and humid weather will be in place ahead of a cold front approaching the State today.  Strong to severe thunderstorms are possible ahead and along the cold frontal passage this afternoon and evening, with damaging winds and frequent lightning as the primary threats.  Storms may linger through midnight tonight for areas along and south of I-90.  Temperatures could reach up to or exceed 90 degrees in some locations today, but it should be cooler and less humid Thursday with highs in the lower 70s.

New Yorkers can view weather alerts in their area by visiting the National Weather Service website here.

Agency Preparations

Department of Transportation
The State Department of Transportation is closely monitoring the coming storm and is prepared to respond with the following assets:

  • 1,438 large dump trucks
  • 305 large loaders
  • 78 chippers
  • 78 tracked and wheeled excavators
  • 22 water tankers
  • 17 vacuum trucks with sewer jets
  • 15 tree crew bucket trucks

Thruway Authority
The Thruway Authority has 658 operators and supervisors prepared to respond to any wind or flood related issues across the state with small to medium sized excavators, plow/dump trucks, large loaders, portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures.  Variable Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio and social media are utilized to alert motorists of weather conditions on the Thruway.

Statewide equipment numbers are as follows:

  • 245 Large Dump Trucks
  • 126 Small Dump Trucks
  • 65 Loaders
  • 28 Trailers
  • 8 Vac Trucks
  • 7 Tracked Excavators
  • 9 Wheeled Excavators
  • 10 Brush Chippers
  • 99 Chainsaws
  • 23 Aerial Trucks
  • 22 Skid Steers
  • 88 Portable Generators
  • 69 Portable Light Units

The Thruway Authority encourages motorists to download its mobile app which is available to download for free on iPhone and Android devices.  The app provides motorists direct access to real-time traffic and navigation assistance while on the go.

Motorists can also sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway here.

For real-time updates, motorists can follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting the thruway website here to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway and other New York State roadways.

New York State Police
The New York State Police has instructed all Troopers to remain vigilant and closely monitor conditions for any problems.  Additional personnel will be deployed to affected areas as needed.  All four-wheel drive vehicles and all specialty vehicles, including Utility Terrain Vehicles, are in-service.

Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff, and regional staff are on alert and monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure likely to be impacted by severe weather.  All available assets, including swift water rescue teams, are positioned to assist with any emergency response.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
New York State Park Police and park personnel are on alert and closely monitoring weather conditions and impacts.  Park visitors should check the parks website here or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings.

Department of Public Service
New York’s utilities have approximately 5,500 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts across the State.  Department of Public Service staff will track the utilities’ work throughout the storm event and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions anticipated to be impacted the most.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

Before the Storm

  • Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors.
  • If a storm is approaching, keep a NOAA Weather Radio or AM/FM radio with you.
  • Watch for signs of approaching storms.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if storms are imminent.
  • Check on neighbors who require special assistance: infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

During the Storm

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.  Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Move to a sturdy building or car.  Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • If lightning occurs and sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hard-top automobile and keep the windows up.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity.  Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Avoid
  • using the telephone or any electrical appliances.  Use phones only in an emergency.
  • Get to higher ground if flash flooding or flooding is possible.  DO NOT attempt to drive to safety.  Most flash flooding deaths occur in automobiles.

Tornado Safety Tips

  • Remain calm but take immediate action.

If you are outdoors:

  • Seek shelter in a substantial building immediately.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.

If you are at home or in a small building:

  • Go to basement or an interior room on the lowest floor. Stay away from windows.
  • Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms offer the best protection.
  • Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.

If you are in a school, hospital or shopping center:

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area.
  • Stay away from large open areas and windows.
  • Do not go outside to your car.

If you are in a high-rise building:

  • Go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Do not use the elevators. Use the stairs.

If you are in a mobile home or vehicle:

  • Get out of mobile homes or vehicles, they are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado.
  • Take shelter in a substantial structure.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot with your hands shielding your head.

For more weather safety information, please visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website here.